Somali Islamic group threatens to attack Kenya

/ Source: The Associated Press

An extremist Islamic militia in Somalia has threatened to launch attacks in neighboring Kenya if the Kenyan government trains Somali government troops, a spokesman said.

The U.S. has accused the group, al-Shabab, of harboring the al-Qaida-linked terrorists who allegedly blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

Kenya has offered to train Somali troops. In a telephone interview with local radio stations late Wednesday, Sheik Muktar Robow, an al-Shabab militia spokesman, blamed the Somali armed forces for thousands of deaths.

"We heard that the Kenyan government is willing to train 10,000 men for the TFG (transitional federal government), so if it goes on to do this, we will order all our holy warriors to start the jihadi war inside Kenya," Robow said in the interview, which several radio stations in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, broadcast live.

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua declined to comment.

When Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf's government was formed in October 2004, regional governments offered to train the nucleus of a police force and army.

A few years ago Kenya trained dozens of Somali police officers in Kenya, said Bruno Lemarquis, the head of the Somalia office of the U.N. development agency, which has funded such programs.

Uganda has trained hundreds of Somalis for a national police force in the semiautonomous northern Somalia region of Puntland, which is relatively secure compared to southern Somalia, where the capital is, Lemarquis told The Associated Press.

Al-Shabab is not known to have threatened Uganda with attacks or carried any out there.

Kenya has not indicated how many Somali soldiers it plans to train or when.

Al-Shabab is among several Islamic militia groups that have waged an Iraq-style insurgency against Somali government troops and their Ethiopian allies for almost two years. The nearly daily mortar attacks and gunbattles have killed thousands of Somali civilians in the capital, deaths that all sides blame on each other.

Ethiopian troops entered Somalia in December 2006 to back their Somali allies and oust Islamists who controlled much of southern Somalia and Mogadishu for six months.

Somalia has not had an effective government since 1991, when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre before turning against each other, reducing the Horn of Africa nation to a state of chaos and anarchy.